The fortune that once belonged to a man afraid of germs and disease is now helping to fight them. The not-for-profit Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) is one of the largest private medical research organizations in the US. Unlike most such organizations, HHMI directly employs the researchers it funds (through a multibillion-dollar endowment) and provides needed equipment and facilities. Its staff of some 330 "investigators," as the institute calls them, includes more than a dozen Nobel Prize winners. The organization concentrates primarily on such biomedical areas as cell biology, genetics, immunology, neuroscience, and structural biology. HHMI also supports science education through a grant program.
HHMI's revenue increased to around $2.2 billion in fiscal 2011 (ends August) from some $1.5 billion in 2010, increasing revenues by roughly 40%.
HHMI spent $825 million for research and awarded about $80 million in grants for science education in 2011. For the last five years, HHMI distributed over $4 billion in research funds and grants.
HHMI also operates Janelia Farm, its own research campus complete with meeting and social gathering spaces for various research groups. The facility serves as a complement to the existing programs in place at more than 70 schools and labs throughout the US where its investigators typically work.
Founded in 1953 by Howard Hughes, the institute was the major beneficiary of the sale of Hughes Aircraft to General Motors.
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